EPA Prosecutes Boots Retail under the WEEE Regulations

Date released: Jan 24 2006

On 23 January 2006 Boots Retail (Ireland) Ltd pleaded guilty to charges brought by the Environmental Protection Agency in relation to offences under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2005. 

This is the first case to be taken under these Regulations in Ireland or in the EU. The Regulations were made to bring the EU WEEE Directive into Irish law and became effective on 13th August 2005. 

The case was heard at Wexford District Court and the company admitted breaching the Regulations by:

  • Failing to maintain a specified notice in-store alerting customers to the fact that prices include a contribution to a Producer Recycling Fund to ensure that WEEE is collected and recycled in a responsible manner.
  • Failing to include in an advertisement offering electrical and electronic equipment the contribution to be made to a Producer Recycling Fund as well as the net price, as required by the Regulations.  The advertisement was published in the Irish Times on 27th October 2005.

Waste electrical and electronic equipment is made up of many different materials and components, some of which are hazardous. The Directive aims to prevent the generation of electrical and electronic waste and to promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery. Failure to comply with the requirements of the Regulations has the potential to reduce the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment that can be collected and diverted from landfill. 

Commenting on the prosecution Dr Gerry Byrne, Programme Manager, EPA said, “The WEEE Regulations are consumer-friendly and environment-friendly and in failing to comply with the Regulations companies put compliant retailers at a competitive disadvantage.”

Fines of €1,200 were imposed and costs of €6,865 were awarded to the EPA.

Notes for Editors: 

WEEE Enforcement: The EPA’s Waste Prevention Unit enforces the WEEE Regulations.  Since August 2005, extensive correspondence has been initiated alerting numerous Retailers and Producers of EEE to their obligations.  Most companies have rapidly commenced preparations to comply with the Regulations.  While the EPA is hopeful that those contacted will work towards compliance without recourse to legal action, instructions have been given for legal action to be instigated in three instances to date.

The EPA and the Office of the Director Consumer Affairs (ODCA) are working closely in regard to the correct pricing of EEE at retail premises throughout the country.  Inspectors from ODCA are actively looking at this issue at a range of EEE retail outlets.

The EPA is also consulting directly with the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) concerning the enforcement of legally correct advertising of EEE.  Non-compliant advertising for EEE is being referred to them for follow through with their media member organisations. 

Local authorities have a role in enforcing many of the articles in the the Regulations for example ensuring one for one takeback is available, registration of all retailers and providing civic amenity sites for WEEE.  A National briefing session completed in November 2005 for all Local Authorities advised them of their role in the enforcement of the Regulations through the EPA’s national Environmental Enforcement Network.  A WEEE Working Group is being set up to guide and co-ordinate the Local Authorities in their enforcement work.

Electronically collated information on WEEE with direct links to additional information sources, the National WEEE Register and the compliance schemes etc has been set up at: http://www.epa.ie/whatwedo/waste/

A guidance note has been issued on this website for consultation on Business to Business (B2B) waste management plans which self-compliers must file with the EPA.

The EPA has undertaken an extensive national advertising campaign in the national press to highlight the WEEE Regulations. Additionally, the EPA has recorded an item on WEEE for the Eco-Eye TV programme due for broadcast in 2006.  EPA will be participating in a number of national seminars concerning the requirements of the two Regulations during 2006.

The EPA is an active participant in the WEEE Monitoring Group and meetings of the National WEEE Registration Body.  Links are being made with regulators in other countries to share experiences in the enforcement of WEEE.